how to build shed doors

many people often wonder how to build shed doors for their new sheds, and it’s surprisingly easier than you think. some designs have been in use for thousands of years, and being able to use ready-made screws, panks, steel hinges, and nails make this project much easier than it would be than if you had to use twine, wooden pegs, and leather hinges. 

no matter if you’re in the finishing or design stage for your shed doors, the door itself is a very important consideration. it provides security, access, and it lends your shed an aesthetic touch. you have to decide which size door you need and what you want to fit easily through it. does it have to fit smaller garden tools or do you need to be able to drive a lawn tractor or something bigger through it? 

you could purchase your shed doors, but building your own gives the shed a highly personal touch and a sense of pride for you. batten doors are especially nice because you can trim them to fit any opening. they provide security, are easy to build, and they look nice. we’re going to break down how to build double batten shed doors for you, and you can easily adjust the plan to make a single door if you only need one. 

1 simple shed doors
making your shed doors match your shed’s look will give you a cohesive feel and look, but you can also make them stand out and be bold. this comes down to personal preference and paint choice, but making the doors in the batten style have the same routine.
shed in patchs #2 by douglas o’brien / cc by-sa 2.0

important configurations to know

before you dive into this project and start creating your shed doors, there are a few important configurations to get first to prevent problems down the road. a lot of sheds still serve their original purpose, but others have gone through transformations to turn them into playhouses, craft rooms, garden storage, or craft rooms. most of these sheds can last for decades if you maintain them. you’ll need to consider: 

consideration one – door width and height

you typically base your door dimensions on what you want to use the shed for, and you should decide this before you start building. for example, a standard 36-inch by 80-inch door is much easier to carry boxes through than a smaller 32-inch wide doorway. 

but, your lawn tractor will fit much easier if you have a 48-inch door. the door height can be influenced or influence your wall height too. ideally, you’ll put in a six or eight-foot header. this allows you to frame a three or four-foot shed door right now, but you can create a wider door configuration later if you need it. 

consideration two – single or double door

based on the dimensions you get for your shed and what you want to use it for, you’ll decide if you want a single or double door. a 36-inch door is great for human movement in and out by a 48-inch door or wider is better for trailers or lawn tractors. double doors give you a higher versatility with this decision. you can open both at the same width, or you can have different dimensions. 

maybe you’re someone who will only need a 48-inch wide opening once in a while. if so, you could split your opening and have a 36-inch door with a 12-inch second door. you can do the same thing if you have a 60-inch opening. you could install a 36-inch passage with a 24-inch door that gets fixed at the top and bottom with a bol and doesn’t move until you need a wider opening. 

consideration three – sliding door or hinged swinging door

once you pick out a size for your shed door, you’ll have to decide if you want a sliding or hinged door arrangement. you can have two doors and have them swing from opposite sides to open and close at the opposite ends of the door frame, or you can bi-fold them to swing from one. sliding doors require space to slide open, and you’ll have to plan more during the design stage. larger sliding doors can have a passage built into them too. 

consideration four – blend in or stand out

should the shed door blend in neatly with your shed or stand out? aesthetics is the last consideration to keep in mind, but it’s important because you want to be happy with the finished product. this is an individual decision, so it can change from person to person. 

how to correctly frame an opening for your shed doors

even if a door seems like it’s just a hole in the wall, it’s a reinforced hole in the wall. this means that it needs more support to carry and spread the roof and wall’s weight to keep the wall’s structural integrity up. you’ll want to frame the opening at each side from the bottom plate to the top plate using king studs. jack studs will go in, and they’re studs that you shorten to the height of your door opening and add two inches to support the header. 

the header functions to carry the weight of the building above your shed door’s opening. the dimensions will depend on the size of the opening itself. you’ll usually have two 2×4 or 2x6s on edge with a ½-inch plywood sandwich or spacer shims between them. 

cripple studs are short studs that fit nicely between the bottom of the top plate and the top of the header. you typically place them to help continue the 16-inch or 24-inch center pattern of framing studs, and one should go directly above each jack stud. 

for this project, the header was two 2x4s with a ½-inch osb strip sandwiched between them to match the stud’s 3 ½-inch thickness. we framed the door opening using a king stud sandwiched between a jack stud and a normal stud. there wasn’t space for any cripple studs on top of the header. 

2 nice fit on the shed door
any door you create should be very sturdy to help secure your items. having a good fit is also key to ensure there are no gaps or that the door doesn’t stick as the temperature and moisture levels change.
the new shed by blaine o’neill / cc by-nc 2.0

how to build double shed doors – a step-by-step guide

there are different ways to build batten-style shed doors. however, it’s important to note that this style door is easy to build, looks great, and it’s easy to adjust the size to fit a person going through or a larger riding lawn mower. if you find yourself running out of room in your original shed, you can easily add a lean-to with batten doors to connect the spaces and free up some more storage room. 

a braced and ledged batten door has three main components to it. you’ll get vertical boards or battens that serve as your door panels, two diagonal braces or pieces, and three horizontal ledges or rails. 

step one – design the shed door

we used tongue-and-groove for the door design, and we incorporated 9/16-inch by 6-inch by 8-foot pine boards for the battens. before trimming the boards, the real size is 9/16 by 5 ¼. you can purchase them from almost any lumber supply store, and many will offer them in bundles of four boards. 

once we finished and trimmed the door opening, it measured 40 ¾-inches by 68-inches. the plan for this guide on building shed doors is to end up with dual 20 ¼-inch by 68-inch door panels. this gives you around ¼-inch for expansion between the panels. 

each door will get held together by three 2×4 ledges or rails and two 2×4 braces or diagonals. this is why the shed doors get the name braced and ledged batten doors. if the roof of your shed has an overhang on it, make sure it doesn’t stop the doors from opening or closing. 

step two – measure your door opening

once you frame and trim the door opening, you’ll want to measure the size of your frame to know which size to build your shed doors to fit. 

step three – pick out and buy materials 

the door opening’s width will help determine how much wood you need for the shed doors. say that your preferred pine plank is 5 ¼-inches wide and your opening is 20 ¼-inches wide. if so, you’d need four planks. it’s a good idea to buy an extra package so you can pick out better boards that have fewer knots and that are very straight. 

step four – prepare your boards

once you have your measurements, you can cut the planks to whichever lengths you need. for this project, each door needed four tongue-and-groove boards that were 68-inches long. you should rip off the tongue from one plank and rip the groove from another board using a table saw. 

step five – dry fit and glue your doors

lay your freshly cut boards on a pair of sawhorses or workbench with the outside of the shed doors facing down. try to mix the planks to reduce how much they warp or cup. the end grain curvature should now alternate in and out. the brace boards and ledge can prevent cupping, but alternating the end grain curvature reduces it even more. it’s a good idea to alternate them before you trim the tongue and groove in the previous step to make the project easier.

next, dry fit the planks together to ensure that all of your tongue and groove joints fit snugly. apply a light bead of wood glue on one side of the first board on the groove. some people will warn you against applying glue to tongue-and-groove boards because they claim it can restrict how the board can contract or expand. however, only applying the glue to one side of the groove allows for expansion and contraction. also, expansion or shrinkage doesn’t happen only at the edge of your shed doors; it happens across the door. 

the best way to reduce your overall movement within your planks is to seal it using urethane, stain, or pain. applying this to every plank face will help control moisture. if you’re screwing or nailing it to the ledges, it’ll restrict the movement even more. the glue works to seal the joint and secure each edge together. it can help your shed doors last for years and hold up against strong winds, swon, and rain without cracking or splitting. 

repeat this process on each board to join them into the grooves. wipe off any excess glue that starts to squeeze through, and make sure you align each end flush. the first and last boards should end up square at the edges. getting a large sheet of plywood with true corners or a carpenter’s square is a good idea at this stage. 

clamp your boards together without over tightening them. the goal is to get enough pressure to completely close the joints and no more. perform a quick recheck to ensure that the outer edges stayed square. clean out any excess glue you notice. 

step six – cut and attach ledges or rails

next, you’ll cut three horizontal ledges or rails that are 18-inches long using 2×4 boards for each door panel. bevel cut yours at one end while keeping the hinge end square. sand the newly cut pieces with 120-grit sandpaper and an orbital sander. measure seven inches from the top and one inch from the door sides and mark where your top rails will go. put construction adhesive on the back of the top ledge or rail and attach it to the boards using two-inch decking screws. 

if you want to make this door slightly different, run all of your screws in from the back. the screws will go through the 2×4 rails or ledges and into the door battens. this gives your shed door’s outer face a much neater and cleaner look, and the screw heads won’t be visible if you choose to paint the shed door. 

next, mark 22-inches from the bottom of the door and one-inch from the door sides to attach your middle rails. apply your construction adhesive to the back of the 2×4 rails and use two-inch decking screws to attach it to the door battens. 

measure and mark seven-inches up from the bottom of the door and one inch from the door sides for the final ledge. apply your construction adhesive to the back of the 2×4 pieces and attach the ledge to the door panel using two-inch decking screws. when all of the ledges get screwed into the door battens, it’s safe to remove the clamps. 

next, measure and cut 2×4 pieces for each door panel that will fit diagonally between the ledges to form the braces. you want a “z” shape when you get all of the pieces attached. apply your construction adhesive to the back of the first, and make sure you fit it from the bottom to the center. attach it to the board using two-inch deck screws. repeat this process for the second 2×4 piece. 

step seven – trim off one end

the doors in this project got built out to the dimensions of the passage opening, and this means that we have no gap and the doors can stick. get a marking pen and draw a line between ⅛ and ¼-inch across the bottom or top of your shed doors, but not both. this gives you a small gap for opening and closing the doors. you can cut it using a circular saw and a guide to keep it straight. sand the doors with an orbital sander and 120-grit sandpaper. 

step eight – prime and paint

apply any good exterior wood primer to all of your shed door surfaces. remember to coat the top and bottom of your doors too. get a high-quality exterior latex paint to cover your shed doors, including the bottoms and tops of your panels. it’s better to use gloss or semi-gloss with a brush or sponge roller. this will give you a neat look without any streaks or drips. 

step nine – attach hinges

you want to get hinges and place them five-inches or more from the bottom and top of your shed doors. we centered them on the ledges, and this ended up being around 8 ½-inches from the bottom and top. make sure you leave ¼-inch to ⅜-inch gap to allow for seasonal expansion between the door and the frame. we also replaced two of the screws with carriage bolts for extra security. 

clamp your door panel into place and mark your location. the hinges should be level on both doors, and make sure you keep your ¼-inch to ⅜-inch gap. you can clamp them to the top and bottom plates. drill one hole per hanger for the carriage bolts and install the bolt and screws. you could also drill a smaller hole for the screws to stop the wood from splitting. 

next, finger tighten the carriable bolt until the screws are in place. flip your shed doors over and tighten it with a wrench. once you get both hinges in place, it’s time to hang the door. 

step ten – hang your shed doors

drill a hole for your carriage bolt in the door frame. you’ll want the bolt to be the correct length because this will go through stud framing. secure your hinge to the door frame using the carriage bolt. you should only finger tighten it until you have both hinges in place. when both hinges are correct, screw any other fasteners in. wrench-tighten your carriage bolts at this stage. if the bolt is too long, you can cut it off. 

repeat this process for your second shed door. remember to cut out your bottom plate once you get both doors installed. we like to attach a gate latch to keep the doors closed, and you should keep it level with the top hinges. the screws should bite into the 2×4 ledge. we attached two ring bolts in the middle ledge board to allow us to lock the doors. these bolts also act like pull knobs to open the shed doors. 

3 building shed doors
double doors are very popular for sheds since they allow you a greater degree of flexibility and space. you can lock one side and have a smaller opening or open both of them to allow bigger yard tools or items to pass through without an issue.
shed by maggie.5150 / cc by-nc 2.0

popular shed door materials

you can use a host of different materials to make your shed doors, and your project’s dimensions might also influence the materials you pick out. our preference for this project is to use tongue-and-groove pine planks, but other options include: 

engineered wood siding

one example of engineered wood is smartside. they infuse the strands of the wood with zinc borate before they coat them with marine wax and a mix of resin glue. then, they press and heat the wood together. the sheets each get a resin-saturated overlay in a tan coloring for more protection. a ⅜-inch x 4-foot x 8-foot panel costs between $30.00 and $50.00. 

pros:

  • 50-year warranty 
  • moisture, bug, and rot-resistant 
  • comes pre-primed and ready to paint
  • environmentally-friendly 

cons: 

  • can warp
  • requires routine painting 
  • have to seal all cuts 
  • dulls drill bits and saw blades

grooved plywood

this material is made up of thin layers of wood veneer heated, glued, and pressed together before getting cut into four-foot by eight-foot sheets in different thickness ranges. the panels get grooved by a router to look like traditional battens. you can use it outside, but it doesn’t have an exterior grade to it. it’s available in ‘u’ channel or reverse board and batten grooved sheets. your shed doors will cost between $30.00 to $60.00 for a four-foot by eight-foot sheet. 

pros: 

  • won’t warp or shrink
  • very strong due to opposing grain layers
  • several thicknesses available 
  • can stain or paint it

cons: 

  • squirrels like to chew it
  • have to paint it periodically 
  • not resistant to rot, water damage, or layer separation

t1-11

this material features thin layers of plywood or strands that get heated, glued, and pressed together before getting trimmed to the correct size. the four-foot by eight-foot exterior grade sheets get grooves cut every eight-inches so they look like tongue-and-groove or shiplap. a ½-inch x 4-foot x 8-foot sheet will cost between $30.00 and $40.00. 

pros: 

  • easy to paint or stain 
  • inexpensive way to get a batten look
  • no gaps 

cons: 

  • can warp
  • can rot or split
  • requires routine maintenance 

tongue-and-groove

these planks come with a groove cut into one edge and a tongue cut into the other edge. the tongue gets pushed into the groove of the plank right next to it. they secure the pieces together, prevent shrinkage gaps, and reduce warping. you can buy them pre-made or make them yourself, and they cost between $1.00 and $1.50 per linear foot for a 1-inch by 6-inch pine board. 

pros: 

  • reduces gaps
  • varnish, paint, or stain it easily 
  • easy to use

cons: 

  • can warp 
  • have to seal every surface 
  • can get expensive 

where to find shed door manufacturers near you

when you’re considering building your shed doors, you can choose to do it yourself, buy them pre-made, or have someone make them for you. if you’re not sure where to start your search, the following can give you a solid starting point: 

frequently asked questions 

4 shed doors faqs
asking questions will give you a better understanding of this project’s scope and whether or not it’s something that you can take on by yourself.
shed, woody point by heat13her / cc by-nc-nd 2.0

1. do you have to paint, stain, or varnish your shed doors?

you don’t have to, but it’s highly recommended. these layers work like a protective coating that helps seal out moisture and prevent problems with rot or warping. if you don’t paint, stain, or varnish your shed doors, you could find yourself replacing them very quickly. 

2. should you go with a single or double door?

this will depend largely on your personal preferences. a single door is nice if you don’t plan on putting anything large in the shed because you’ll have restricted movement. double doors give you much more flexibility with what goes through them, and they’re not much more difficult to create. 

3. are there different types of shed doors?

yes, you can generally pick from batten doors, dutch doors, hinged swinging doors, sliding doors, or roll-up doors. glass or french doors are another option, but you’ll typically only find these on sheds that got turned into offices or playhouses rather than storage sheds. 

4. how much clearance do you need for your shed doors?

you want to keep a ¼-inch on all sides of the inner door frame clear between the door opening inside of the shed and the frame. you also want a ¼-inch gap on all sides of the outside of the door to allow for seasonal swelling so the door won’t stick. 

bottom line

making shed doors isn’t a huge project, and you can easily complete it within a weekend. if you follow this step-by-step guide, you should end up with professional-grade results without having to spend a lot of money. the doors will secure your shed while giving you enough space to move your items in and out whenever you need them. 

shed doors 1 shed doors 2